Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Datlow and Windling Fairy Tale Anthologies on Sale in Ebook Format



The entire ebook library of modern Fairy Tale anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling is on sale for $1.99 for each title for a limited time. They are usually in the $6 range. Four of the five titles have been on sale previously, but I have never caught Black Thorn, White Rose on sale previously, so I dare say it may be for the first time.

Now in ebook format I am only missing Snow White, Blood Red since it has not been offered digitally yet. I have owned the hardcovers for years, of course.








Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Princess and the Cat: A Tale from India



I have mentioned that there are few tales in which cats are true villains to be found in Puss in Boots and Other Cat Tales From Around the World. The following tale is a rare exception.

While that in itself makes the tale of particular interest, the fascination grows with the story's usage of elements that usually appear in ATU 510B: Peau d’Asne (Donkeyskin), one of the tales in the vast Cinderella Cycle of folktales. The tale deals with abuse and fear with elements that become quite modern--a stalker, the heroine escaping her stalker in disguise with name changing, for example--but has a happy ending.

I decided to share this story in full since it is so very interesting. It also represents the wide range of tales to be found in Puss in Boots and Other Cat Tales From Around the World.


The Princess and the Cat

India

THERE was once a King who had an only daughter, whom he loved exceedingly. One day she went into the bazar and saw a man selling a kitten, which she bought and took home. She was very fond of it, and took such care of it that it became an enormous cat.

When the time came for the Princess to be married the cat was very angry and jealous. He asked her if it was true that she was going to be married. She said nothing, and hung down her head for shame. When the procession arrived the cat again asked her if she was going away. Again she made no answer. When the bridegroom’s people came the cat jumped upon them and began to scratch and tear them until they were obliged to run away to save their lives.

When the King heard this he was astonished; but what could they do because the cat threatened to kill them all. The Princess was so afraid of him that she was obliged to be kind to him.

One day the cat said to her: “I am going out hunting.”

While he was away the Princess took the chance of escaping and went off to the house of a Chamar. She got the Chamar to make her a covering of skin so that the cat should not know her, and when her skin-coat was ready she put it on and started on her travels. On her way she met the cat, and when she saw him coming she sprinkled some barley on the ground and began to pick it up.

The cat asked her who she was, and she answered: “I am Chamni (the skin-woman), and I live by picking up the grains that fall on the ground.”

The cat went back to the palace and searched everywhere for her, but he could not find her.

At last the Princess reached the land of the Prince, her husband, and came begging at the palace door. Her mother-in-law saw her, and taking pity on her, gave her service in the kitchen. But as her skin-coat gave a foul smell no one would let her sit near them, and she had to remain apart.

One day the man who grazed the elephants fell sick and there was no one to tend them; so Chamni was sent out with them. When she was alone in the jungle she used to take off her coat of skin, and she made a swing in which she used to lie and sing while the Fairies from Indrasan came and sang, and sported with her. This so pleased the elephants that they stood round her and listened to the music.

As they would not graze they became so lean that the Prince could not understand the reason, and one day the Prince went himself to inspect them, and when he saw Chamni in her real form he was fascinated with her beauty. When she came back he sent for her, and when he had made her take off her coat of skin and heard her story, he accepted her as his wife. She told him about the cat, but he said: “Do not fear. When he comes I will kill him.”

Meanwhile the cat had traced out the Princess, and taking the form of bangle-seller (Churiharin) arrived at the palace. She stood outside crying: “Bangles to sell. Who wants bangles?”

The Princess called her in and was having a set of bangles fitted on, when the bangle-seller suddenly sprang upon the Prince, and would have torn him to pieces had not the servants come to his aid. The cat escaped, but some days later as the Prince and Princess were in their room, he made a hole in the roof and was just about to spring upon them when the Princess, who was awake, saw him and called to her husband. He seized his sword and cut off the cat’s head; after which they lived in the utmost happiness.

NOTES

A folktale told by Mazhar Husen, of Mitzapur.

Source: Husen, Mazhar. “The Princess and the Cat.” North Indian Notes and Queries. Oct. 1893, p. 121-122.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Bargain Ebook: Deerskin by Robin McKinley for $1.99 TODAY ONLY





Deerskin by Robin McKinley is on sale in ebook format for $1.99 for TODAY ONLY. It was last on sale in March 2015 and usually retails for about $6.

Using what I've said about the book in the past:

Do I recommend this book? I remember first buying it upon its original release into hardcover with hard earned cash when being a poor student meant hardcover books were an absolute luxury. Have I ever regretted the purchase? No. Does the book still rest on the McKinley shelf in my library? Yes. Is the reason Donkeyskin is annotated on SurLaLune primarily in thanks to this book? Absolutely yes.

It's a tough book subject matter wise but it is lovely and now I also own it in ebook format, too, to access wherever I may be in the world. I think it handles a very difficult topic without glamorizing or exploiting it or being too graphic or explicit. Much more is implied than shown. But please read the description, be aware of the subject matter, and be aware of any personal trigger warnings, especially for victims of abuse. It is not a children's book either. These days it would be new adult but mature young adults will be fine with it. There is so much more out there that is much more graphic than this in the 22 years since it was published.

Book description:

The story of Princess Lissar, who flees her father’s wrath and is granted an unexpected new life

Princess Lissla Lissar is the only child of the king and his queen, who was the most beautiful woman in seven kingdoms. Everyone loved the splendid king and his matchless queen so much that no one had any attention to spare for the princess, who grew up in seclusion, listening to the tales her nursemaid told about her magnificent parents.

But the queen takes ill of a mysterious wasting disease and on her deathbed extracts a strange promise from her husband: “I want you to promise me . . . you will only marry someone as beautiful as I was.”

The king is crazy with grief at her loss, and slow to regain both his wits and his strength. But on Lissar’s seventeenth birthday, two years after the queen’s death, there is a grand ball, and everyone present looks at the princess in astonishment and whispers to their neighbors, How like her mother she is!

On the day after the ball, the king announces that he is to marry again—and that his bride is the princess Lissla Lissar, his own daughter.

Lissar, physically broken, half mad, and terrified, flees her father’s lust with her one loyal friend, her sighthound, Ash. It is the beginning of winter as they journey into the mountains—and on the night when it begins to snow, they find a tiny, deserted cabin with the makings of a fire ready-laid in the hearth.

Thus begins Lissar’s long, profound, and demanding journey away from treachery and pain and horror, to trust and love and healing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Many Tale Types in Puss in Boots and Other Cat Tales From Around the World



So while I have a lot of fun looking for multiple versions of stories in an ATU tale type when researching my books, for Puss in Boots and Other Cat Tales From Around the World my favorite section by far was "More Cat Tales" where I collected many, many other cat tales that I found. There are 94 tales in that section--more than one book all in itself--so I enjoyed the searching obviously!

From my introduction:

The “More Cat Tales” section may be the most fascinating thanks to its wide breadth of content. One goal of this section was to include representative tales from other tale types known to have cats in them as well as dozens more tales that were not classified. Hence we see cats with a diverse representation.

Folktales with cats tend to use well-known cat traits to drive or at least embellish the stories. So we have cats that are intelligent, cunning, independent, loyal, helpful, and sometimes even menacing. They are rarely victims and often come out victors in any conflicts.

One of the rare examples of a victimized cat can be found in ATU 1370: The Lazy Wife Is Reformed. It is a disturbing but not uncommon tale, although I chose to share only one example of it in this collection as “The Lazy Cat” from Hungary. A housecat is held responsible for a lazy wife’s poor housework. The husband beats the innocent cat (and his wife while she is holding the cat) as a means of teaching the wife a lesson. The wife is ultimately “reformed” into a better housekeeper. The tale, while considered humorous in times past, will be offensive to many modern readers with its violence against women and animals as well as its overall moral.

I'll discuss more of the other represented tale types in coming days, but wanted to share the table from the book's end matter that shows many of the tale types I identified.

Most of the tales in the "More Cat Tales" section were NOT identified by tale type, but the best known cat tale types and some other familiar types I did identify and provide in the list. You can click on the images below to see them larger.


Friday, January 6, 2017

Bargain Ebook: Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan



There are a lot of wonderful books on sale in ebook format right now. Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan is on sale for $1.99, the first time it has been priced this low. It is a Maiden in the Tower retelling, which makes most people think of Rapunzel, but I also include Maid Maleen in that group. The book description feels like a mix of both tales with Jordan's own twists and turns of course from that inspiration.

Book description:

Destiny and darkness collide in this romantic, sweeping new fantasy series from New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan.

Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok's lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna's survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn't stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Bargain Ebook: Whittington by Alan Armstrong for $1.99




The ebook edition of Whittington by Alan Armstrong is on sale for $1.99 which seems very fitting right now at SurLaLune. This is a novel-length retelling of Dick Whittington's Cat is a Newberry Honor title, too. There are many award winning children's books on sale in ebook format right now, too.

Book description:

The power of reading is beautifully captured in this 2006 Newbery Honor-winning book.
Bernie keeps a barn full of animals the rest of the world has no use for–two retired trotters, a rooster, some banty hens, and a Muscovy duck with clipped wings who calls herself The Lady. When the cat called Whittington shows up one day, it is to the Lady that he makes an appeal to secure a place in the barn. The Lady’s a little hesitant at first, but when the cat claims to be a master ratter, that clinches it.
Bernie’ s orphaned grandkids, Abby and Ben, come to the barn every day to help feed the animals. Abby shares her worry that Ben can’t really read yet and that he refuses to go to Special Ed. Whittington and the Lady decide that Abby should give Ben reading lessons in the barn. It is a balm for Ben when, having toughed out the daily lesson, Whittington comes to tell, in tantalizing installments, the story handed down to him from his nameless forebearer, Dick Whittington’s cat–the legend of the lad born into poverty in rural England during the Black Death, who runs away to London to seek his fortune. This is an unforgettable tale about how learning to read saves one little boy. It is about the healing, transcendent power of storytelling and how, if you have loved ones surrounding you and good stories to tell, to listen to, and to read, you have just about everything of value in this world.

ATU 130: The Animals in Night Quarters (Bremen Town Musicians)




I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. I'm ready for some more posts about Puss in Boots and Other Cat Tales From Around the World if you are! I can't even remember what I've covered and what I haven't so far. This book is already archived in my brain to make way for the next books so that is always a challenge, too. So I thought I would start with a simple topic, The Bremen Town Musicians.

From the book's introduction:

ATU 130: The Bremen Town Musicians

Cats are often key players in ATU 130: The Animals in Night Quarters tales. The most famous version of this tale is “The Bremen Town Musicians” from the many editions of Kinder- und HausmĂ€rchen by the Grimms.

Several animals that are nearing the end of their usefulness to their owners fear their looming demise, so they band together to find a new home and occupation in their “retirement” years. In the Grimms’ tale the animals are a donkey, dog, cat and rooster, but the cast of animals varies across countries and variants. Many versions that include a cat are offered in this collection.

The animals eventually discover a house that they acquire from a band of robbers after a humorous nighttime adventure that includes each of the animals doing what they do best, from clawing to kicking, etc. to roust and scare away the robbers. This is a fun tale that nevertheless has a strong message about the usefulness of the aged.

There are 13 ATU 130 tales in the collection, not all of which include cats, including:

Benibaire from Spain
The Bull, the Tup, the Cock, and the Steg from England
Jack and His Comrades from Ireland
The Story of the White Pet from Scotland
The Choristers of St. Gudule from Belgium (Flanders)
The Bremen Town Musicians from Germany
Martin’s Eve from Austria
The World’s Reward from South Africa
The Monkey and the Crab from Japan
The Battle of the Ape and the Crab from Japan
How Jack Went to Seek His Fortune: I from United States
How Jack Went to Seek His Fortune: II from United States
The Dog, the Cat, the Ass, and the Cock from United States

I collected more than these that didn't include cats, but only kept for the collection those with cats or those tales that were unusual enough to merit inclusion without or without cats.

One of my favorite tales in this set is "Martin's Eve" from Austria. One reason is only important to me, I admit. I have many methods for acquiring the tales in these collections. One is cross-referencing between sources since oftentimes scholars will reference similar tales. Another is to use existing scholarship and studies of tales in a tale type. Finally, the most time consuming and challenging is raw research. I manually or digitally searched about 1,000 folklore titles for cat stories for this collection. Martin's Eve was one of the finds that I stumbled upon, not one I found referenced anywhere, but an obvious ATU 130 when I found it. So it felt like gold to find it! I love those moments, rare as they are. And the title didn't make me think it would be anything useful, so it was a complete surprise. The cat is the lead animal in this one, so double bonus.

St. Martin's Day is no longer celebrated as regularly or enthusiastically but it was a fine feast day with an excuse for revelry in times past. Drunken revelry and other assorted foibles abounded, too, of course. This tale centers around that November feast day which gives it a specific and unusual time frame but one that fits the tale type well.

I admit this has never been a favorite tale type, but especially the tales about aging animals finding a final home as well as the message of the animals banding together, then surviving and thriving from their natural abilities pleases me no end. So hurrah for a deceptively simple tale!






Monday, December 19, 2016

Witches and Cats in Puss in Boots and Other Cat Tales From Around the World



It was rather inevitable that witches would need to appear in a collection of cat tales, so there are several in Puss in Boots and Other Cat Tales From Around the World. Witches and devils are almost always evil and need to be destroyed in these stories, so they are not the happiest of tales, but definitely an interesting subgenre of folklore.

From my introduction:

It would be negligent to not include tales of cats as witches’ animal manifestations, familiars or companions since that is one of the most prevalent associations for cats in folklore. While I collected many short anecdotes featuring cats and witches—or devils which are interchangeable with witches in many of these stories—finding full stories to share was challenging. I have enough material and notes for a short book devoted to the topic, but it’s not one that is as interesting to me and has been addressed in greater depth elsewhere. However, I wanted some representative tales of witches and cats to be included here and so chose some of the most interesting and fully developed stories from my research.

One of my favorite stories in the entire anthology appears in this section. It is “The Black Cat,” from North Carolina in the United States. It made me laugh outloud the first time I read it and I knew it would have a place somewhere in this collection. It’s short and not an easy read since it is written in a Southern USA dialect, but be sure not to miss it.

Many of the tales offered as witch stories do not have an ATU type but fall into a different cataloging system as Migratory Legend 3055: The Witch That Was Hurt.[1] In this legend type, a witch is injured while in the shape of an animal, often a cat or hare. Her secret identity is revealed when the corresponding injury is seen on her after she has resumed her human form. She is usually punished or even executed for her witchy activities. The injury, thankfully, is usually a serious one, not a simple scratch, but more on the level of a missing appendage.

[1] Migratory legends are another tale classification system developed by Reidar Thoralf Christiansen in The Migratory Legends: A Proposed List of Types with a Systematic Catalogue of the Norwegian Variants (1958).

The Witch tales in the collection are:

The Cats of San Lorenzo from Italy
San Miniato fra le Torre from Italy
How Diana Made the Stars and the Rain from Italy
Diana as Giving Beauty and Restoring Strength from Italy
The Cat-Hags of Gries from Tyrol (Italy & Austria)
The Green Lady: Norfolk from England
The Weaver’s Wife and the Witch from England
The Cat Witches from Wales
The Two Cat Witches from Wales
Macgillichallum of Razay from Scotland
The Witch of Laggan from Scotland
The Severed Hand from Norway
A Witch Burnt from Netherlands
The Witch’s Cat from Belgium
The Devil’s Cat from Germany
The Severed Hand from Germany
The Witch from Russia
The Lady Who Became a Cat from India
The Vampire Cat of Nabeshima from Japan
A Plantation Witch from United States
The Crow and Cat of Hopkinshill from United States
The Black Cat from United States
The Cat Who Wanted Shoes from United States
The Woman-Cat from United States

Saturday, December 17, 2016

ATU 560: The Magic Ring in Puss in Boots and Other Cat Tales From Around the World




ATU 560: The Magic Ring is the tale type that I had the least amount of experience with and consequently learned the most about during the research for Puss in Boots and Other Cat Tales From Around the World. For this reason, it became one of my favorite tale types offered in the book. This is also one of the rare tale types where I was able to find more English translations of Eastern versions than European. And there was sufficient difference between the variants to make them interesting, especially the Eastern Hemisphere ones.

From my introduction:

Another vast tale type that features a cat as a key player is ATU 560: The Magic Ring which is often conflated with ATU 561: Aladdin—the more recognized tale in popular culture—since there are not many distinguishing factors between these magic object stories. However, a cat usually appears in the tales that fit best into ATU 560: The Magic Ring.

There are hundreds of known Magic Ring stories and no single tale is considered the definitive tale. One of the earliest known versions can be found in Basile’s Il Pentamerone as the first diversion of the fourth day, often known as “The Rooster’s Stone” or “The Stone in the Cock’s Head.” However, this version does not feature a cat so it has not been included in this collection.

In these stories, a young man acquires a magic ring after he unselfishly rescues several animals from abuse or death by paying for them with his last coins. He rescues the three animals in a succession of events, a dog, a cat and a snake. The snake is a prince among his kind and provides the means of acquiring a magic ring (or other object) that ultimately provides riches to the young man through wish fulfillment. The man’s wealth impresses the king and gains him a princess for a wife. Eventually he reveals the power of the ring and it is stolen from him, often through his wife’s complicity. He loses everything, is imprisoned, and faces imminent death. The dog and the cat have remained faithful during his journey from rags to riches and so set out to recover the ring for him. The cat is the better mastermind but together the cat and dog restore the ring to their master, thanking him for sparing their lives. His wealth is restored and he lives happily ever after in the lifestyle he prefers, sometimes as a king and sometimes as a regular man, depending on the level of his wife’s complicity in his trials.

This tale appears around the world, but the majority of the variants offered in this collection come from India and other parts of Asia. It is a fun tale, one with which I was less acquainted before I began the work on this anthology, but it became a grand treasure hunt to find rare variants to share. This tale type is more gratifying than “Puss in Boots” since the hero usually demonstrates his worthiness for his elevation to a higher social level. The Chinese and other Eastern versions are of particular interest, since they offer the story as a pourquoi tale of why cats and dogs do not like each other.

The Magic Ring tales included in the collection are:

The Cat and Dog and the Talisman from Turkey
The Grateful Snake, Cat, and Dog and the Talisman from Turkey
The Snake, the Dog, and the Cat from Greece & Albania
Gigi and the Magic Ring from Italy
The Hind of the Golden Apple from Portugal
The Enchanted Watch from France
Three Years Without Wages from Norway
The Ring with Twelve Screws from Russia
The Enchanted Ring from Russia
Sharau from Russia
The Story of the Man Who Bought Three Pieces of Advice from Iran
The Clever Cat from North Africa
The Wonderful Ring from Nigeria
The Magic Ring of the Lord Solomon from India
The Merchant, the Princess and the Grateful Animals from India
The Prince and His Animal Friends from India
The Charmed Ring from India
The Wonderful Ring from India
Lita and His Animals from India
The Golden Beetle; or, Why the Dog Hates the Cat from China
Why Dog and Cat Are Enemies from China
Tokgabi’s Menagerie (Cats and Dogs) from Korea
Why Dogs Wag Their Tails from Philippines
Juan Manalaksan from Philippines
Juan the Poor, Who Became Juan the King from Philippines



Friday, December 16, 2016

Lauren Conrad Snow White Collection at Kohl's




Have you seen the Snow White collection by Lauren Conrad at Kohl's? It is selling quick because it is cute and/or romantic with most pieces not splattering anything overtly Disney on them. That's okay if you like that, of course, but I prefer subtlety when it comes to every day fairy tale themed clothing. I'm middle aged and was trained by my dad to not pay others to be their walking billboard. Unless I really ADORE something, of course, because clothing is rarely about absolutes.

I love florals so some of these pieces are my taste exactly. Same thing happened with the summer line of Alice in Wonderland by Lauren Conrad. And I don't even LIKE Alice in Wonderland but I own some cute pants from that line. Now I am crossing my fingers there will be a Beauty and the Beast line in the spring in conjunction with the movie with more clothes like these. Of course, Hot Topic and Torrid (since they are the same company) will have some, too, but they tend to be more kitschy although some of their recent Once Upon a Time line was subtle and more appealing to me, too, I admit. Shocked me!

As for the Lauren Conrad stuff, I fell in love with the Snow White Peasant Top and the Floral Tulle skirt. There are little apples on the peasant top which is a wink to me that this is a Snow White themed shirt, but that's it. No one else has to know unless they are savvy about the clothes or I tell them. That's the way I like it a lot of the time. And wonderfully enough--it also was a peasant top that flattered me which is sometimes iffy with peasant top styling. Because yes, I own the blue one below.

And, no this isn't an affiliate deal--I get no kickback or otherwise. I just really have enjoyed these Lauren Conrad special lines. I wonder if I missed previous ones...yes, I see I missed the Cinderella one but none of those looked like they work as well with my personal style. Or if they did, too late now!




Thursday, December 15, 2016

ATU 402: The Animal Bride--The Cat Versions



So another small section--but one of my favorites--in Puss in Boots and Other Cat Tales From Around the World offers Animal Brides.

Another famous folktale cat can be traced directly to the French salons and a specific author, “The White Cat,” by Madame la Comtesse d’Aulnoy. While her creation is literary and very long, it is part of a long, rich tradition of women who are rescued from living in animal form in folklore.

These tales can be typed as ATU 402: The Animal Bride. Several animal bride stories featuring enchanted cats are included in this collection. Most ATU 402 tales do not feature a cat; many feature an enchanted frog or mouse instead, but cats are more common than most other animals.

Animal bride stories can include several variations from other tale types but the overarching plot usually involves a third son who through service and various challenges breaks the enchantment of a princess and thus wins her hand in marriage. He usually doesn’t know that the animal he is serving is in fact a bewitched princess. His valor and worthiness are usually proven by the actions he takes despite his ignorance of the full situation. The final step in breaking the challenge often includes physical violence such as decapitation, mutilation or burning, an act he performs reluctantly after making an honorable promise to the enchanted creature.

More enchanted cats appear in other sections of the book, but those tales that fit most comfortably into the ATU 402 tale type are gathered into their own grouping.

It is interesting that women are so often enchanted cats when men rarely are. Here is a list of the Cat Bride tales found in the book:


  • The Grave Prince and the Beneficent Cat from Tyrol (Italy & Austria)
  • The White Cat from France
  • The White Cat of Ecija from Spain
  • CucĂșlin from Ireland
  • Peter Humbug and the White Cat from Denmark
  • The Poor Miller’s Boy and the Cat from Germany
  • Silly Jura from Czech Republic
  • The Cat Who Became a Queen from India

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dick Whittington's Cat



Although I could share more about Puss in Boots, I wanted to move on to other tales to be found in Puss in Boots and Other Cat Tales From Around the World. One of my favorite tale types from this book is ATU 1651: Dick Whittington’s Cat. It's such a simple tale but with a rich history that can be found in many cultures, primarily the seafaring ones for obvious reasons.

I cannot think of another animal whose usefulness to humanity is explored so well in folklore. Doesn't mean there isn't, but I've not run into it yet. The crux of this tale type centers around the much needed vermin controlling aspects of cats. They are essentially unknown and thus valuable to the cultures that don't know about them in these tales. There's a subtle humor to it, too, since so many societies with cats find themselves overburdened with a feline population at times, something you realize with a little thought while reading the tale. So an abundant, but skilled animal--one that is common to us--is extraordinary and bring riches. There is a wish fulfillment aspect to that--who wouldn't like to make their fortune with an easily acquired animal, one that is about to be destroyed due to its overpopulation at the beginning of some versions of the tale?

From my introduction:

After “Puss in Boots,” perhaps the second best known cat folktale is ATU 1651: Dick Whittington’s Cat. The story is not as well known in modern popular culture, but it has been widespread and casually referenced in previous centuries with a fascinating range of variations on the theme.

The story describes how an honest and humble man finds his fortune by either directly or indirectly introducing a cat to a distant land overrun by mice and rats. The citizens are so thrilled with the cat’s prowess in controlling the rodent infestation that they pay for the cat with a great fortune. The cat is not a character in the story, but it is a key element and ultimately provides for the hero’s blessed future simply by doing what it does naturally.

This tale, too, has some fascinating examples of early scholarship to share. The first is “Whittington and His Cat” by Thomas Keightley excerpted from Tales and Popular Fictions; Their Resemblance and Transmission from Country to Country (1834). The second is “Whittington and His Cat” by William Alexander Clouston excerpted from Popular Tales and Fictions: Their Migrations and Transformations (1887). These articles share in full text some of the earliest known versions of the tale which I did not repeat as individual tales in the section devoted to ATU 1651, so be aware that there are more ATU 1651 stories in this collection than are listed in the table of contents.

Both articles discuss the history of the tale, including its strange—and inaccurate—association with the very real Whittington, a political figure in 15th century London. How a tale with a long history and wide variety of versions became so closely associated with a real historical person is unknown, but it only adds to the charm and mystery of the usually short and straightforward story. It is also a much more comfortable story since no one is truly exploited or deceived, not even the cat, but a great fortune is achieved in a much more honest method.